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Despite the fact that I’m a futurist with a relentless focus on innovative thinking, I’m probably as guilty as the next person in making quick  judgement on people and companies – particularly with respect to the scope of what they do today compared to yesterday.

So it was when I saw that a company named Lewis Tree Services wrote a blog post about my recent keynote for the annual National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology Show in Nashville. Read their post here; you’ll also find it below.

Hmm, I thought – what is a tree company doing at an energy conference, and why would they blog about my keynote with an observation on the future of that industry? After all, what do these people do – trim and cut trees?

In my keynote, I did speak about the emergence of new careers – including, location intelligence professionals! Watch it here:

That’s the type of limited thinking that I often accuse my clients of falling prey to! All too often, we miss the signs of significant change in an industry, unless we actually spend some time to work in that industry. Such it is with the cutting and clearing of trees….. who would have thought! Well, I should have!

I began reading the post (which does a great job in summarizing my talk!), and then started browsing their Web site. Tree cutting? It’s  no longer what it was. It’s bound up in spatial intelligence – location is everything. This organization provides utility, i.e. power companies, i.e. those at the conference, with intelligent mapping services that can provide for better overall municipal risk management among other things.  A key line in their service offerings caught my attention:

“The heart of the Intelligent Vegetation Management approach is a philosophy of leveraging investments in GIS, outage management, customer information and ERP systems to connect vegetation management operations into technology ecosystems – yours and ours.”

Of course! Intelligent vegetation management by location intelligence professionals. Of course their industry has transformed into  a technology driven industry – in which tech provides a pathway to the delivery of all kinds of innovative services and capabilities. And the fact is, this transition has been underway for a long time ; too many of us don’t spend time thinking just how quickly EVERY industry is being transformed.

Here’s the fun part – my entire morning before reading this blog post has been bound up in properly catching the essence of location intelligence as a professional service. Backstory: I’ve been talking about the emergence of the ‘location intelligence professional’ as a critical emerging career path for the last 20 years. Someone must have been listening, because my oldest son Willie Carroll went on to get a university degree and then a post-graduate college certificate in that very field!

And just as I was reading this blog post from Lewis Tree, I’m working with Willie in the home office as he rolls out his new freelance GIS company, Location Intelligence & Design.

Willie’s key skill set includes collection and interoperation of location / geospatial information with the leading such technology from ESRI, ArcGIS. Lewis Tree? The heart of their Intelligent Vegetation Management service is based upon ESRI’s ArcGIS!

I love this world. There is just so much coming together all at once.

I also love this line in their blog post: “We need to learn what we don’t know and fill our knowledge gaps.” Yup, me too!

The Future of the Energy Industry
Posted by Laura Ribas on Mar 13, 2018 12:42:22 PM

The fascinating keynote at TechAdvantage 2018 was given by Jim Carroll, a futurist, who spoke about the speed of change and provided some mind-boggling statistics. According to Carroll, seven out of every 10 kids today will work in a career that doesn’t yet exist. And half of all knowledge learned during the first year of college today will be obsolete by the time the students graduate. Carroll used the phrase “immediate obsolescence” which applies to new technologies, like digital cameras, that come to market and are out of date <6 months later.

The future belongs to those who are fast.

We’re in the midst of unprecedented change with more change expected in the next few years than has occurred over the last 150 years. The world will look vastly different in ten years than it does today.

Disruption and Innovation

The world is becoming hyper-connected and business models are shifting with this massive connectivity. Our smart phones are now digital cameras, credit cards and GPS devices. We can manage the heat and security of our homes from afar. Our kitchen appliances are connecting with food packaging and retailers. Home sprinkler systems have moisture sensors (because why water when we don’t need to?). We now have medical tricorders that provide an instant readout of our healthcare and physical condition. The science fiction of Star Trek and the Jetsons is here today.

When Napster introduced the ability to download MP3s, the music industry was threatened as their business model changed. The same will be true for utilities and those serving them. Will we see change as a threat or an opportunity?

Smart businesses will see change as an opportunity.

What does this new world look like? It’s a world where big data and analytics are key. It’s a world where precision farming is conducted by drones analyzing plant health, soil composition and more. Where real-time information is provided to vehicles to inform lane changing.  Where street lights monitor air quality and offer car charging stations. Where highway control is intelligent. Where we’ll have 24/7 solar energy even when it’s dark outside.

Carroll believes that these are near-term, not long-term, trends. That self-driving trucks are five years away. That flying cars are simply drones scaled up in size and able to carry people.

Moore’s law of innovation velocity is happening before our eyes. The advancements in battery technology are staggering (and small always beats big).

And Carroll believes that we’ll achieve grid parity faster than we think. Think: portable charging stations. Think: glass in buildings that generates electricity. Think: growing solar cells in plants. (Check out this article that highlights a new thermal resonator device from MIT that can generate energy anywhere using natural temperature changes.)

With grid parity, customers will generate their own energy and share it with each other via micro grids. According to Carroll, the micro grid is not a fringe idea; it is fundamental to the future. (Check out this ComEd press release sharing that they’ve been approved to construct one of the first utility-scale microgrid clusters in the nation.) Think of Napster but for energy: cooperative energy networks. Distributed technology resources are growing three times faster than other technologies. Advanced technologies will reshape the industry and edge thinking dominates.

By 2020, every industry will be a:

  • Software industry
  • Technology industry
  • Insurance industry
  • Battery industry

Maytag used to sell appliances. Now equipment manufacturers sell service levels and uptime using predictive diagnostics.

Utilities are also becoming insurance companies, hedging customers against risk using real-time data to eliminate outages. Blockchain technology, like that used for Bitcoin, will have a massive impact on smart grid technology transforming the architecture of the grid itself.

We’ve seen the costs of LiDAR collapsing from $75K to $100. Carroll joked that pretty soon they’ll be selling LiDAR packs at Dollar General. A massive shift in location-based services is underway. And mapping requires location intelligence professionals.

And with customers using smart thermostats like Nest and Ecobee, utilities can also provide innovative ways for customers to receive rebates. Think of today’s kids. They don’t know mainframes and DOS. They’re wired, collaborative and global. They’re gamers. What happens when gamers buy houses with Ecobees? They compete against their neighbors to win energy rebates.

Devices with participatory data are the future.

The grid is a complex data engine and data is the new oil in energy.

We need to learn what we don’t know and fill our knowledge gaps. To be prepared requires garage-like thinking. We need to ask ourselves, are we leaders or followers? And how quickly can we change?

At Lewis Tree Service, we believe that one of the benefits of introducing our Intelligent Vegetation Management solution as a forerunner in the industry is that it enabled us to become more agile, flexible and customer-centric when it comes to technology and innovation.

We’re big fans of Carroll’s adage: Think big, start small, scale fast.

Next month, I’ll keynote the National Rural Electrical Cooperative Technology conference. It’s an unprecedented 5th repeat booking by this organization.

The energy industry is in the midst of fast hyper-disruption.

Here’s a quick little video that I put together for them to outline some of what I’ll cover.




We will see more change in every industry in the next 10 years than we have seen in the last 100 as transformation and disruption sweeps the world.

Every company is faced with the rapid emergence of new competitors, significant new business models, more challenging consumers, the acceleration of science a race to the pricing bottom, and a transition to the speed of innovation that will define their future. How do you get ahead? By turning on your innovation engine, firing your creativity thrusters, and strapping in for a rocket ride into your faster future.

In this keynote, futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll shares the insight that he has gained by spending the last 25 years with a relentless focus on what turns organizations into high-velocity innovation heroes. None other than NASA has invited Jim in – twice – to share his insight on innovation strategies.

Innovative organization accelerate their creativity by turning their innovation engines upside down, focusing on customer oriented innovation and other unique models. They excel at sourcing ideas from the outside, turning that unique insight into fuel for their internal innovation factories. They challenge themselves on speed by getting into an iterative process of constantly rethinking, adjusting and redoing in order to discover the next best thing. They challenge themselves on business cycles, time to market and more.

In accelerated organizations, partnership is a key focus, collaboration is critical, agility is oxygen and imagination is relentlesss.

Launch yourself into the faster future with this unique, high energy keynote for global futurist, trends & innovation expert Jim Carroll!


What does a global futurist do? Assist clients in understanding the key trends which are impacting their industry, and sharing insight on a pathway forward!

Companies that book speakers know that there are a lot of them out there that will deliver canned talks that, while they might be inspiring, don’t really offer much in the way of substance. I’ve developed a global reputation for being spectacularly different, with highly customized talks based on original research that go into the key issues of today and trends of tomorrow. You don’t get to have clients such as NASA, Disney, Johnson & Johnson, Nikon and over a thousand more without offering depth of insight. Watch my video, “Why Jim Carroll“, to understand why these and hundreds of other clients have booked me.

I do much of my work on big fascinating stages at big events such as seen below – but I also share my insight at small meetings with Board of Directors meetings or in senior CEO led sessions, with as few as 20, 50 or 100 people in the room. Whatever the case may be, my job is to take people into the future, and guide them on how to best get there!

With that in mind, here are some of the highlights of my 2nd half of the year of 2017.

Nikon 100th Anniversary Celebration, Tokyo, Japan

This was certainly a treat – they invited me in to headline a dinner with my observations on the future! I opened with a story on when NASA invited me in (twice!) for a talk on the disruption of the space industry, transformative leadership and fast paced trends. My audience consisted of people from 37 countries, with simultaneous translation into Japanese and Chinese. You don’t get to be a company with a 100 year history without constant, relentless innovation and reinvention, and so it was an honour to be invited in to headline this prestigious event.

Disruption: Self-Driving Cars and the Sharing Economy, Mercedes Benz, Detroit, Michigan

Obviously, this is a HOT topic, and being invited in by one of the pre-eminent automative companies in the world to share my thoughts on these trends is certainly a career highlight! 2017 was characterized by an increased number of organizations looking for in depth insight to the massive disruption occurring in the industry – I spoke at automotive, trucking, hi-tech, finance and insurance conferences about the impact of self-driving, autonomous vehicles. Simply check out some of the posts in the automotive trends section of my blog – it’s over there on the right — for some insight into why companies like this are choosing to bring me in.

The Acceleration of Risk in the Era of Disruption, Baker McKenzie client conferences, Dallas and Chicago

It’s pretty cool when the top-ranked global legal firm — operating in 38 countries with 13,000+ legal staff — picks you to come in and speak to their most important clients about the future — and the unique legal issues that the future brings. That’s what Baker McKenzie did! The audience was pretty spectacular – key corporate legal counsel for a vast number of global Fortune 500 companies, individuals responsible for managing the accelerating complex legal issues of our time. My keynote took a look at fast new risks involving intellectual property, the Internet of Things, new careers, accelerated product innovation and so much more. I’m busy working on a blog post on my thoughts – stay tuned!

Manufacturing Trends and Disruption, Legrand, Connecticut

It was a busy year for keynotes in the manufacturing space! This talk was for Legrands North American leadership meeting, where the CEO and his team fine tune strategies and plans for the coming year. They’re big in the global tech industry, manufacturing a wide variety of component parts and cabling. My talk took a look at key trends providing opportunity in the manufacturing process, including the factory of the future, the Internet of Things, digitization, 3D printing, accelerated supply chains and much more.

Future of food, agriculture, retail and consumer behaviour, Simplot, Phoenix, Arizona

This agricultural company is the largest global supplier of French fries to McDonalds and other food companies, as well as being very active in other aspects of the industry. This was a team leadership meeting as well, with individuals from throughout the organization – marketing, product development, legal, finance and accounting, supply chain and more. They invited me in to speak to over 400 executives about key trends that will impact them in the future, including the accelerated pace of agricultural science, changing consumer behaviour, faster marketing and brand challenges, and other similar topics.


Future of energy – renewables, batteries and more, SAP Utilities conference, California

You have to love it when a client invites you back – and in this case, SAP was bringing me back in for about the 20th time since they first booked me in 2003! This conference had about 500 executives from the energy utility industry in the room, with a focus on future energy, water and wastewater trends. I delivered a barnburner of a speech in the morning for a small group of senior executives, and a repeat performance later in the afternoon for the entire group, with a focus on the massive, disruptive change occurring in the energy space, including issues around grid party, micro-grids and intelligent grids, the acceleration of renewable generation methodologies, battery storage technologies and more.

Future of customer interaction, SOMOS, Chicago, Illinois

This is a new group — 3 years old — that represents the 1-800 toll free service industry, and the invited me in for a keynote on trends and issues impacting consumer behaviour. I spoke to issues around mobile, increased and accelerated expectations for customer support, and how the Amazon effect is coming to affect the latter, to name just a few issues!

Retail and consumer behaviour, XCelerate 2017, Las Vegas

This event draws the CIO’s and strategy executives for a vast number of the largest grocery and consumer product retailers from across North America. There was one big word in the room – Amazon! My keynote examined the types of retail trends that the national media (such as Time Magazine) turns to me for, including faster supply chains, collapsing product lifecycles, the new consumer and brand influencers, intelligent and active packaging and more. This was one of many retail events this year — the highlight being when Godiva Chocolates brought me in (twice!) earlier this year for a similar talk.

Disruption and innovation, McKay CEO Forum, Vancouver, Canada

Imagine a room full of 300 CEO’s and senior executives, and you get the McKay CEO Forum, one of the pre-eminent senior level events in Western Canada. I did a wide ranging talk on the theme of disruption and industry transformation, putting into perspective the stark trends that are impacting and reshaping every industry at a furious pace.

Quintiq World Tour 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

This is a company that builds a software platform that helps companies to manage complex supply chains and workforces, and my keynote focused on why the need for ‘managing complexity’ is becoming critical in the context of faster trends. If the world gets faster, it gets more complex. The winners will be those who can manage that complexity!


CPAmerica, Washington, DC

An accounting and professional services firm! My keynote took a look at the disruptive trends which are and will continue to change their client base, and the unique financial, legal, risk and partnership issues that this might present them going forward. It was a talk that took a look at the future of professional services in the era of fast paced change!

Fin-tech and disruption, Finastra annual user group meeting, Orlando, Florida

This company is a software vendor to the community bank and credit union industry – and naturally, that’s what I zoned in on. With a little bit of the Jetsons to boot! (While all of my talks are highly customize to the audience and issues at hand, I also have 25 years of stage craft experience, and know how to have fun with a crowd!. In these days of mobile device obsessions, you need to know how to work an audience and engage them.)

Manufacturing Trends and Disruption, AssaBloy, Connecticut

Another CEO led leadership meeting, in this case for this company which is one of the world’s leading manufactures and suppliers of door and window locks — everything from simple deadbolt assembly to complex chip based hotel door locking devices. Globally, a wide variety of manufacturing organizations are finding that I’m THE guy to inspire them to think about Manufacturing 2.0, the Factory of the Future, and how to get there.

Future of food and consumer behaviour, Dallas, Texas

The National Automatic Merchandising Association CEO saw me at an event, and told me she immediately determined that I should come in and headline one of their events — in this case, their annual Coffee, Tea & Water conference. Fast changing consumer behaviour, the rapid evolution of taste trends and brands, the impact of social media, intelligent packaging, the Internet of Things and more!

Future of the global economy, Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, Oklahoma, OK

Over 700 local executives from throughout the city attended the event that I headlined, with a keynote that took a look at over 20 trends which are providing opportunity in the global economy. While much of the US is on the ropes with the never-ending political soap opera, senior executives are also eager to understand where the global economy is really head. OKC picked me to do this job, and the reports coming in are that they are thrilled with the job that I did!

Economic development trends and the future of manufacturing, International Asset Management Council, Richmond, Virginia

The International Asset Management Council is an organization relentlessly focused on economic trends, and represent two distinct groups – economic development representatives from government organizations, including states, provinces and cities, as well as individuals in many Fortune 1000 organizations responsible for future site locations for manufacturing plants, R&D facilities or other corporate locations.My talk took a look at the disruptive trends of today, and what that will mean for future economic development opportunities tomorrow.

Canadian Manufacturing and Technology Show, Toronto, Canada

This is the biggest manufacturing conference in Canada, organized by SME (previously, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers). This is the 4th time SME has had me headline an event – two other notable ones were the massive IMX show in Las Vegas, and the Big-M manufacturing conference in Detroit. 

Henry Schein, Long Island, New York

This company is one of the major players in the dental, medical and veterinary products industry, serving well over 100,000 medial professionals around the world. The senior leadership brought me in for a look at the rapid evolution of medical science, consumer and patient trends, healthcare issues — and the potential disruption that might come from Amazon and other organizations. Companies everywhere need to stay apprised of the accelerating rends which will shape and impact their industry, and this is a good example of the many internal leadership events I do for organizations. It doesn’t hurt that I’d previously done keynotes in each of these industry verticals.

Global Economic Growth Trends, Nevada Economic Development Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada

Sadly, one week before the horrific Las Vegas shootings, I spoke at the University of Nevada Las Vegas for economic development officials from across the state, on key economic opportunist beyond the tourism and gaming sector. It covered issues related to renewables and energy, self driving cars and accelerating industries, workforce and skills issues and much more


That’s a few of the events from the fall! Stay tuned for 2018 – it begins with some excitement, when I headline the World Government Summit in Dubai, this February. Previous speakers have included Barak Obama, Prime Minister Abe of Japan, Elon Musk and others. It should be fun! And I am thrilled to have the opportunity to make an impact.


A question came in from a potential client last night, and after writing a long answer, I thought it was probably a good idea to blog it and place the answer on my site!

The question was for a potential European event, and really had to do with whether I could work with an a European / international audience, be respectful in my timing, work with the translation team, work with simultaneous transition, and provide enough regional or localized content.

The answer is yes, yes, yes and yes….!

On stage in Sao Paolo for the Worldskills global conference. My audience featured individuals from 85 countries.

My mother tongue is English, and sadly, while I don’t speak any other languages (despite some 10 years of French lessons in elementary and high school!), I regularly speak on an international basis. This involves working with translators. focusing on international content, and working to keep my pace slow enough for the audience to be respectful of their needs.

Here’s the critical background on the international work that I do:

  • global audiences. I do a LOT of international work; I’ve presented in Sao Paolo, Budapest, Munich, Athens, Stuttgart, Prague, London, Paris, Brussels, Ghent, Stockholm, Zurich, Tokyo, Mexico …. and in all of these situations, have ensured that I have slowed my pace to be respectful of the audience.
  • simultaneous translation. Many of these events have featured onsite translation through headsets; the fact is, I regularly do sessions that feature simultaneous translation, and know the criticality of sharing the deck in advance with the translation team
  • advance translation planning. In some cases, I have done a Skype or Google Hangout walkthrough with the translation team of my slide deck, so that they are comfortable with the content and direction
  • a long track record with stage translation. I’m based in Canada and have been on stage for 25 years. Given that, my earlier years featured several hundred (!) events that have involved simultaneous translation (English/French) with headsets/translations. It’s just a thing in Canada!
  • sequential translation experience! My Budapest event actually featured sequential translation into Hungarian as opposed to simultaneous translation. Tthat was kind of fun, since my translator was actually on stage with me, followed me around, and even mimicked my stage actions!

There are many relevant examples of the international work I have done.

  • I just keynoted Nikon’s 100th anniversary dinner in Tokyo, with an audience from 37 countries. I provided my slide deck in advance to the translation team; I was simultaneously translated into Chinese and Japanese.
  • in January, I keynoted the first leadership meeting for Ulker; the parent company is Turkish, and the meeting represented the entities of the corporate group with the leadership team for Godiva Chocolates (Belgium), Ulker Biscuits (Turkey) and McVitie’s Biscuits (UK),  but with individuals from each of those 3 groups from around the world; a secondary booking had me with Godiva’s global supply chain team from 25 countries. Both massively global audiences.
  • Accenture had me speak at their annual energy conference in San Francisco; we had utility executives from China, Japan, Russia, Philippines, India, and 26 other countries. In that case, I was simultaneously translated into Russian, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese!
  • my keynote for the Worldskills conference in Sao Paolo featured simultaneous translation into Portuguese and Spanish.

In addition to speaking internationally, I often do Fortune 500 events that feature a leadership team from around the world. Some recent examples are global leadership meetings for Dow Chemical in Wilmington (2 events) with individuals from 57 countries; Disney (27 countries); and dozens, dozens more. So can I work with an international/European audience? Definitely yes. (Plus, when I mentioned for the Ulker group that I was Canadian, I got cheers. I think that the Canadian brand image is kind of fun right now!)

The other question that often comes up has to do with regional content, as in European specific examples/storylines. Can I customize my content so that it doesn’t include just American examples. (Well, did I mention I’m Canadian?)

It’s not the cover of the Rolling Stone, but I was once featured on the cover of CEO Magazine Hungary. The only speech where I had armed guards in the room with Uzis! But that’s another story for another time!

The answer is yes – I can easily and often do that do that. Many of the client bookings above have involved a necessity where my examples include global, not North American centric examples.I am regularly booked and work with content that is specific to the folks in the room. And so my Godiva Chocolate supply chain event included retail trends from Asia, India, the Middle East. My Dow Chemical talk took a look at global trends with examples for many of the different groups in the room.

The fact is, I do *extensive* research as a part of my talk, and regionalization is part of what I bring to the table if we need to do that with the content.

I work hard to alleviate the concerns of any clients who book me, and this includes translation and internationalization.

So – pick up the phone and call me. Let’s chat!

I was recently invited in to keynote the annual SAP Utilities conference in Southern California, and had a room of a few hundred executives from the energy, utility, water and wastewater sector.

Here’s a clip where I spoke about the acceleration of everything having to do with battery technology. I think its one of the most fascinating yet not fully appreciated sectors in our world of disruption – with an impact on everything from energy to transportation, consumer devices to medical care, and more.

Learn more in my post: The Future of Just About Everything is in Batteries.

Disruption is real, it’s big, and it’s happening faster than you think. My job as a futurist has me doing an increasing number of CEO level events for Fortune 500 companies around the world, participating in leadership meetings which are focused on the massive transformations and disruption occurring in every single industry. Clients such as NASA, Disney, Godiva, Nikon, Mercedes Benz, Johnson & Johnson, and many more.

There is so much coming together all at once, and it accelerates everything. You might not understand the multiple trends that are coming together, so let me take you there.

Here’s what you need to think about today, as the pace of change picks up:

1. Multiple trends merge. There’s a lot going on! Individually, any trend is disruptive. Combine them together, and it’s transformative. 3D printing, exponentiating bandwidth, hyper-connectivity, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics, neural networks, deep analytics, autonomous vehicles, Bitcoin and blockchain, self-learning systems. All of these trends and more are merging together,  leading to a massively new, connected, intelligent machine that will transform, change, challenge and disrupt every industry.

2 Every company becomes a software company. From healthcare to insurance, home appliances to automotive, manufacturing to packaging, retail to sports & fitness, energy to agriculture: every industry is seeing massive change as it becomes enabled, challenged and transformed by technology and connectivity. From precision agriculture to self-driving cars, smart clothing to connected microwaves, remote medical monitoring devices to active packaging  — every company in every industry is becoming a computer company, with software and technology at its heart and soul.

3. Moore’s law innovation speed defines every industry. It’s the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip constantly increases while the cost collapses at an exponential rate — and that speed of change is coming to drive the speed of innovation in every single industry as we all become tech companies. Companies are having to innovate and transform at a pace never seen before.

Read more

Here’s a clip from a recent keynote. It’s part of a talk where I cover 20 Disruptive Trends, and put into perspective why the future belongs to those who are fast! In this short clip, I cover trends involving batteries, self-driving, 3d printing, the space industry, genomics, health care knowledge, and more! Including why I can drink more coffee than other people!

I’ve got a keynote topic description coming around this, with a draft below.

Aligning Acceleration and Agility: The Business Case for Fast!

To say that we live in a fast world would be an understatement. Small, quick upstarts like Square are challenging the global credit card industry, at the same that GPS based driver monitoring devices are rewriting the rules of the auto insurance industry. The NEST Learning Thermostat morphs from a quiet startup to a worthy challenger to industrial energy device powerhouses. Autonomous vehicle technology leads us to road trains and a more rapid emergence of intelligent highway infrastructure. We’re in the era of the end of incumbency, in which small dominates big, fast trumps ponderous, and indecision spawns failure. Everywhere we look, we can see acceleration, speed, and velocity: and in times like these, time isn’t a luxury.

For any executive, these trends matter — because fast trends drive disruptive change. And disruptive change envelopes us in terms of fast trends: self-driving cars, 3d printing, crowdfunding, the sharing economy, blockchains, personal drones, swarm-bots, smart dust, vertical farms, the Internet of Things, cognitive computing, smart factories, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, quantum computing, intelligent farms, smart clothing! What seemed to be science fiction just a few short years ago has become a reality today, as time compresses and the future accelerates.

Take a voyage with Futurist Jim Carroll into the world of tomorrow, today, as he outlines the key trends, technologies, ideas and initiatives that are transforming our world around us at hypersonic speed. A world in which the speed of change impacting every company and every industry is increasingly driven by the speed of technology and Silicon Valley hyper-innovation. One that demands faster innovation, agile response, flexible strategies, and most important, the ability to ‘think big, start small, scale fast.’
For the last 25 years, Jim Carroll has been speaking to and advising some of the worlds largest organizations on the trends that will impact them. With a client list that ranges from NASA to Disney, the Swiss Innovation Forum to the National Australia Bank, Johnson and Johnson to Godiva Chocolates, Jim has had a front row seat to the massive change being encountered in industries worldwide, and deep insight into the leadership mindset of organizations as they adapt to the era of acceleration.
 In just a few short years, it will the year 2025, and the world of tomorrow will be your reality of today. Are you ready for what comes next?


Another article on a recent keynote I did on the future of manufacturing; in this case, from The Fabricator, the publication for the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association.

A chat with futurist Jim Carroll indicates that fabricators should be open to embracing technological possibilities or risk being left behind.

At one time you needed a room of skilled craftsmen just to make even a simple prototype. Tomorrow it might all be done by the design engineers themselves in hours instead of days because of advanced 3-D modeling software and virtual reality technology.

In helping out with some editorial preparation for The FABRICATOR’s sister magazine, Canadian Metalworking, I had the opportunity to chat with futurist Jim Carroll. (He gave the opening keynote address for the Canadian Manufacturing Technology Show on Sept. 25.) Conversations with such industry and societal observers are always interesting because they take the time to consider what may be possible in the years to come while others have their heads buried in the drudgery of everyday life. My talk with Carroll was no different, and the following three conversation highlights only promise to make those that are technology-averse even more nervous about the future.

Continue Reading

The BBC gave me a call to chat about what is really going on with the Internet of Things (populalrly known as IoT) … and ended up running a great summary of our conversation.

The article captures the essence of my thinking that it is very early days yet with IoT. We’re at the starting gate in building the most complex machine ever built, and we’ve got a lot to learn in terms of architecture, security, and its’ role.

Read more about those issues here and here. I’ve been speaking about IoT for over 20 years : a good example is here. And even here, where I talk about the changing role of light bulbs in the era of IOt.

Give the article a read, and see if you agree.


The Brain Inside Our Homes
BBC, October 2017

The most humble of objects can join the connected world, thanks to what is known as the Internet of Things – the interconnection via the internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data. Smart bathroom scales can log weight and body mass index, then feed the data back to a Fitbit wearable for action; networked dog collars can track a pet wherever it roams, help with training and even detect pain; Amazon’s checkout-free Go stores will allow shoppers to fill their bags and leave the store without queuing or even touching their wallet.

The Boston Consulting Group estimates the world will spend $295 billion on Internet of Things (IoT) systems and devices by 2020.

Yet, according to futurist Jim Carroll, the concept is still in its infancy.

Engineer and futurist Roy Amara observed that people tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate it in the long run. Similarly, Carroll believes that when it comes to the Internet of Things, the world is still in the era of inflated expectations that precedes a crash and is followed by more gradual adoption and global dominance.

It’s like it’s 1994 or 1995 and the worldwide web has just arrived – we know that something big is happening here,” he says. “But there were lots of early experiments with websites and e-commerce. A lot failed. A lot were silly. And it took time to mature and figure out business models.

The Internet of Things presents important challenges around security and privacy, which organisations are only beginning to explore. Many manufacturers are still shipping devices with default passwords and user IDs, leaving them ripe for hackers. Privacy legislation has yet to catch up to a world where a single household can emit thousands of data points every day – unconsciously sharing everything from the layout of an infant’s bedroom to the contents of their refrigerator.

Experts agree it is still too early to identify which of the myriad IoT businesses will become the new Amazon, PayPal or eBay. No one can predict which will face the fate of dotcom bubble victims such as Pets.com or Boo.com, or prove, like the various virtual currencies that preceded Bitcoin, ideas ahead of their time. Yet some industries are clearly ripe for disruption.

By 2020, over-60s will outnumber under-fives around the world. By 2050, there will be two billion people aged over 60 worldwide. In an ageing world, cost-effective elderly care is critical. From wearables that track vital signs through to emergency response systems, virtual assistants and perhaps even internal smart devices swallowed like pills, the Internet of Things will help the elderly live in their own homes, with dignity, for longer. Google and Novartis are developing a smart contact lens for diabetics that won’t just correct vision but will track blood sugar; even the humble floor is getting smart, with systems to detect falls – and ultimately, perhaps, prevent them.

I talk to healthcare groups about virtualisation, remote blood pressure cuffs, diabetes monitoring and more,” Carroll says. “We can rethink the concept of care and re-engineer senior care. We can architect a world where seniors are in their own homes and connected by these devices.”

If climate change is the single biggest threat our planet faces, then the smart grid is key to the European Union’s battle against it. By 2020, almost 72% of EU consumers will have an electricity smart meter, part of a smart grid rollout that could slash the union’s carbon emissions by as much as 9%. By saving energy on operations, helping consumers monitor their usage and even feeding stored solar energy back into the grid, smart meters reduce a household’s carbon footprint. Networked to IoT devices elsewhere in the home, such as thermostats, lighting controllers, refrigerators and washing machines, they will cut emissions even further.

Globally, one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted – that’s over 1.3 billion tonnes every year. For food businesses, IoT technology can help cut waste, whether by monitoring perishables on their journey from farm to store or identifying patterns that cause food to end up in the rubbish bin. In the home, smart refrigerators can warn when food is approaching its use-by date, send real-time information on their contents to a shopper in the supermarket to avoid double-buying – and, of course, remind consumers when to stock up on milk.

The Internet of Things is central to the worldwide Smart Cities movement, which itself links closely to global climate action goals. “We can give internet connectivity to all kinds of devices,” Carroll says. “Like a light pole. We can stick in environmental sensors and turn it into a FitBit for the city. We can put charging stations in it, for charging electric vehicles with credit card transactions. It might become part of an intelligent highway solution, where it’s monitoring traffic, interacting with cars, fining drivers using high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

In California, the city of San Diego is upgrading some of its streetlights to install 3,200 sensors, transforming them into a connected digital network. The anonymised data should help monitor traffic, pollution and carbon emissions, identify crimes and assist first responders, and even help visitors find a parking place.

And in Taiwan, the engine room that fabricates many of the hardware that powers the Internet of Things, government and mayors are embracing the Smart Cities movement. The nation that manufactures the Amazon Echo smart speaker hosts an annual Smart Cities summit and is equipping its own urban centres with a low-power wide-area network tailored to the Internet of Things.

In the capital, Taipei, a network of sensors already monitors pollution – driverless buses that collect data on road conditions and traffic are undergoing trials. Local smart scooter start-up Gogoro, which operates on user-swappable batteries, just launched its first solar-powered charging station. In the southern city of Tainan, Acer has developed a smart parking app that enables users to find parking spaces quickly, as well as paying parking fees and parking tickets through a licence-plate recognition system. It was also in Taiwan that German luggage-maker Rimowa chose to launch its smart-tag system, meaning passengers on EVA Air could check in their bags via smartphone, saving time at the airport.

It’s this electronic alchemy – transforming everyday objects such as parking meters or luggage tags with the power of the network – that Carroll sees as the most life-changing element of the Internet of Things. “That’s what gets me excited,” he says. “Not any particular type of device, but how we can fundamentally transform anything so it can do so much more than we thought possible.


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